(photo by Mark Wagner)

Tusk to Tail: Bring on the Tide, and clean out the fridge

It’s Bama week. Most everyone has been looking forward to this game for close to a year now after last year’s crazy, gritty, and inspiring performance in Tuscaloosa. Some of the shine has been brushed off this week’s game after last week’s loss, but the kickoff was already set for the nationally featured spot at 2:30 p.m. on CBS.

The weather is cooperating as well, with a cool start and a daytime high of 81 degrees right around kick off. It will be sunny on the east side and the north endzone, so be prepared for that if you are in those areas and remember your sunscreen and hats. The Athletic Department has declared this game a “Red Out,” so that will be interesting to see. They want everyone wearing red in every section.

We hope to be getting ice and unloading by 8 a.m. on Saturday, but be prepared for heavy traffic. Leave early and keep in mind that traffic will be shut down at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday morning around campus for those without parking passes.

It’s hard to say with any certainty that this tailgate will be a packed house like last year’s Texas game, but I still feel like it is going to be a well-attended game and thus a well-attended tailgate. I’m thinking we can easily expect about 100 guests and maybe as many as 120 by 1 p.m. That hour to hour-and-a-half before kickoff are when the majority of guests arrive and stop in. I just try to check the food and make sure the bar has cups, ice and mixers.

I’ll pack in a little extra beer, liquor, cups, and ice this week to make sure we are well stocked for this game. That Cincinnati game caught us a little short as more people stopped in than expected. One other thing we learned from that in anticipation of this game was implementing the use of wrist bands. It helps me and more importantly the bartenders keep track of who is of age and who is there as a guest. When it gets crazy, it can be hard to keep up. I imagine that is not a concern at most family tailgates but it does help us.

Chef Brad is away on family business this Saturday, so another frequent guest, Clay Gordin, is smoking four pork shoulders for us. Additionally, I’ve purchased some brisket and chicken fingers/nuggets to round it out.

The Hogs will not be back on campus for over a month after this Saturday’s game, so be aware of things in your fridge that you might have been using week after week at the tailgate. Those might need to be trashed after this game if not all used. Also, you’ll want to be sure everything is properly cleaned up and wiped down after this game for that same reason. You don’t want anything permanently stained or perhaps even moldy when you crack it back out Nov. 5 for the Homecoming game against Liberty.

If you have any friends or family asking about attending one of those last three home games in a row in November, the Liberty game Nov. 5 should be the best game for peak fall foliage. The drought this year might change that, perhaps pushing it up some, but usually that first weekend to the second weekend in November is the best for fall colors.

Lastly, my tailgating tip for this week is to suggest you consider buying the smaller sizes of soft drinks and water. I buy 8-ounce cans of soda and 10-ounce bottles of water. They aren’t as cheap as the larger sizes, but you can get more in your cooler and I have found there is much less waste of product. Nothing drives me crazy as pouring out cans and bottles of half-drunk beverages. These are already small, and people still leave them.

Okay, I got that off of my chest.

Enjoy the tailgate, and Go Hogs, Beat the Tide!

Editor’s note: Now in its 11th year, Tusk to Tail is the sport of tailgating as organized, performed and perfected by a group of Hog fans who have been tailgating together sober and otherwise for more than a decade. The primary focus of Tusk to Tail will be to follow the Hogs through the fans’ perspective with their insightful, irreverent, smart-alecky and sometimes practical style. The diehards may also be followed on their Facebook page. Or follow the crew on Twitter and Instagram, all @TuskToTail.

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